Michael McIntyre talks Prince William, arena tours, comedy inspiration from his family, and global success ahead of Birmingham shows
After a gap of three years, Michael McIntyre is returning to Birmingham with his Big World Tour.
His philosophy is very simple: get on stage and try to make people laugh their socks off for two-hours solid - and says his show is about 'silliness and exaggerated stories', rather than punchlines.
“We are trying to make people laugh here. So, let’s be really silly for two hours. That’s where I come in,” Michael said.
"I like jokes where people don’t stop laughing. I want that all the time.
“I don’t just like to use punchlines anymore, especially in arenas. They freak me out. There is nothing worse than 15,000 people waiting for a punchline.
"You’re standing there thinking, ‘I hope I remember the punchline.’ But once you start to think that, you immediately forget it. I much prefer getting into that sense of rolling laughter. When you get that right, there’s no better feeling.”
His routines often see Michael reflect on his own life, as well as bringing out the funny side of otherwise mundane situations.
In the past those moments have included such widely loved routines as the 'man drawer' and 'herbs and spices'.
“We’re all living the same lives. I highlight something that people haven’t really thought about before," Michael said.
"They realise we all do the same thing, and it makes them laugh.
"When I hit those moments, it creates a very big laugh indeed."
The enormous popularity of those routines persuaded Michael to open his last show with a film of members of the public retelling his most famous jokes.
“People would say to me, ‘Every time I do that, I think of you.’ As a comedian, that’s what you like to hear. It’s very gratifying,” he recalled.
However, he continued with a laugh, not everyone pays heed to his jokes.
“I did a joke about the daily struggle to get your kids to put their coats on, and my children still refuse to do it. I say to them, ‘put your coat on. I did a joke about this on the telly, and it’s gone viral. It’s got 5 million hits, and still you’re resisting'.
“I always talk about my two boys. That’s an ever-evolving subject. They’re amazing. They’re doing very well, and I’m very proud of them.
"But that changes every day – talk to me tomorrow and I may give you a different story.
“But I will definitely be doing jokes about my oldest getting a little bit teenager-y. The way he says ‘sorr-ee’ is hilarious.
"He has an amazing ability to say the word ‘sorry’ in every way other than the one which means ‘sorry’.”
Despite his tendency to discuss family, the London-born comedian says his wife may not feature in Big World Tour as much as she has in previous shows.
“She seems in the clear at the moment. She’s had it quite bad in the past," Michael said.
“That was never clearer than when we went to the Royal Box at Wimbledon. At one point, Prince William walked past.
"He stopped and said, ‘Hello, Michael’. Then he turned to my wife and said, ‘So you’re the one in all the jokes’.
"Prince William has been watching jokes about my wife farting at night! But things are looking pretty good for her in this show.”
Michael, who performs at Arena Birmingham from Thursday to Sunday, is also performing all over the UK and Ireland, and is revisiting Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa and Norway. Michael is also travelling for the first time to America, Canada, Switzerland, Iceland, Sweden, Malta and the Netherlands - and is especially looking forward to playing the arenas.
“I used to be daunted by the prospect of performing in an arena," he admitted.
"Before a show, I would look out at the huge audience and think, ‘Great, what’s on tonight? Oh my God, it’s me.’
"But having played so many arenas now, I can see that there is something rather magical about them.
“Some people say, ‘You might as well watch an arena performance on TV’. But it’s not the same. An arena show is live, it’s not an edited TV programme. Things will be happening in the room that night which will never happen again.
"When you’re there, the atmosphere is amazing and you’re surrounded by people really laughing. Nothing beats that.
"Rather than being frightened by that, I really feed off it and enjoy the fact that each night is a one-off.
"It’s everyone’s special night out and I have the privilege of sharing that with them and I work hard to make it the best night it can be.”
Michael has delivered a record-breaking 28 performances at London’s 16,000 capacity O2 Arena where, after matching the achievements of Prince, Take That and One Direction, he was given the keys to the venue in 2015.
The stand-up star has also hosted the Royal Variety Performance twice and confesses that his lovely country house comes with a few inbuilt problems.
“There is constant anxiety. There is continual tension about the plumbing and electrics," Michael added.
"Every time I turn on the hot tap, I’m fearful: will the water warm up or not? You start to kid yourself that it is heating up, but of course it’s not.
“And whenever I turn the light on, I expect the whole house to go up. It’s quite old, so when you flush the loo, it makes noises for the next 24 hours in the weirdest places I stand there thinking – ‘We’ve got a pipe in there’.”
The 42-year-old comic has put out four best-selling DVDs through Universal Pictures: Live and Laughing in 2008, Hello Wembley in 2009 - which became the fastest-selling UK stand-up DVD of all time - 2012's Showtime and 2015's Happy and Glorious, both of which became Christmas DVD best-sellers.
All in all, Michael has sold an eye-watering 3.5 million DVDs.
The comedian's autobiography, Life and Laughing, was published in 2010 by Penguin Books and sold hundreds of thousands of copies to land the coveted Christmas number one slot, is having a ball taking his Big World Tour round the globe.
Michael has an unlikely favourite destination when he takes his tour on the road.
“I’m one of the the biggest acts in Norway - who knew?" he joked.
"I’m playing to 7,000 people in Oslo in 2019, and the show has already sold out.
"I think they come along to practice their English and laugh, even if it’s just to pretend to their partner that they get the joke."
Looking ahead to the tour, Michael jokes that he would like fans to 'take away the programme, the merchandise and the motivation not to write a bad review'.
“In all seriousness, what I do is so silly. It helps when you remind yourself that it’s all very silly. I try not to get overawed by people staring at me – tomorrow they’ll be staring at something else," he said.
"They just want to have a laugh. So I try to make them laugh as hard as possible for as long as possible and give them the opportunity to say to each other on the way home, ‘That was hilarious. My face hurts.'"